Home

Blog

Recently Visited

  • Getting bills...

News, Commentary, and What to Watch on WashingtonWatch.com Blog Feed

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – July 21, 2014

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of July 21, 2014. To subscribe (free!), click here.

On the Blog: The Bills Ahead

The House of Representatives will debate many, many bills in the coming week. Your vote on those bills at WashingtonWatch.com can help signal public opinion to Congress.

See the bills and click to register your opinion from the blog post entitled: “The Bills Ahead.”

Featured Item

Among many others, this week the House will debate H.R. 4935, The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014.

H.R. 4935 would increase the amount of the child tax credit and the income thresholds at which the credit begins to phase out for taxpayers.

Passage of H.R. 4935 would save the average U.S. family just under $550, while increasing each family’s share of the national debt by over $850.

H.R. 4935
The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014
Saves $546.57 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014. Click here to vote on The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014.

The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014
33% For, 67% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

H. Con. Res. 103
Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 1771
The Crooked River Collaborative Water Security Act of 2013
Costs $0.01 per family

S. J. Res. 19
A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to contributions and expenditures intended to affect elections
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 3044
To approve the transfer of Yellow Creek Port properties in Iuka, Mississippi
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 517
The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 5036
To amend title 17, United States Code, to extend expiring provisions of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4983
The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act
Costs $0.01 per family

H.R. 4984
The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act
Costs $0.02 per family

H.R. 4871
The TRIA Reform Act of 2014
Costs $42.94 per family

H.R. 3136
The Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013
Costs $0.01 per family

S. 1933
The Global Human Rights Accountability Act
Costs $0.05 per family

S. 1486
The Postal Reform Act of 2013
Saves $94.78 per family

H.R. 4411
The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014
Costs $0.03 per family

H.R. 3716
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe – Fish Springs Ranch Settlement Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H. J. Res. 105
Conferring honorary citizenship of the United States on Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid, Viscount of Galveston and Count of Galvez
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 3202
The Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act
Costs $0.01 per family

H.R. 4562
To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 2061
The Preventing Conflicts of Interest with Contractors Act
Costs $0.00 per family


Updated Items

H.R. 3212
The Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013
Costs $2.83 per family

H.R. 2575
The Save American Workers Act of 2013
Costs $236.37 per family

H.R. 4194
The Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014
Saves $0.00 per family


Passed Items

P.L. 113-127
To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to take certain Federal lands located in El Dorado County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, and for other purposes
Costs $0.00 per family

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

The Bills Ahead

billsOh, there are complicated issues. We did a deep dive into how the “costs” of legislation should be calculated last week. This time let’s keep it simple.

Here are all the bills the House plans to debate next week (along with the sponsor and committee that considered them). If you click on the links and vote “Yes” or “No” on the bills, that will signal to other Americans what you think should happen. You just might convince others, and Congress just might recognize what public sentiment is.

Check back later in the week and see whether others agreed with your vote!

H.R. 4572 – STELA Reauthorization Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) / Energy and Commerce Committee / Judiciary Committee)

H.R. 4450 – Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 Act, as amended
(Sponsored by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 4812- The Honor Flight Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) / Homeland Security Committee)

H.R. 4802 – Gerardo Hernandez Airport Security Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) / Homeland Security Committee)

H.R 4803 – The TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) / Homeland Security Committee)

H.R. 1022 – Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

H.R. 5035 – To reauthorize the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

H.R. 5120 – The Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-IL) / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

H.R. 2430 – Hinchliffe Stadium Heritage Act (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 3802 – To extend the legislative authority of the Adams Memorial Foundation to establish a commemorative work in honor of former President John Adams and his legacy, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 3716 – Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe – Fish Springs Ranch Settlement Act (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 4508 – To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services (Sponsored by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 4562 – To authorize early repayment of obligations to the Bureau of Reclamation within the Northport Irrigation District in the State of Nebraska (Sponsored by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) / Natural Resources Committee)

H.R. 4411 – Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2014, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) / Foreign Affairs Committee)

H.R. 4983 – Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) / Education & the Workforce Committee)

H.R. 5134 – NACIQI and Advisory Committee for Student Financial Assistance (Sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) / Education & the Workforce Committee)

H.R. 5111 – To improve the response to victims of child sex trafficking (Sponsored by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) / Education & the Workforce Committee)

H.R. 5081 – Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) / Education & the Workforce Committee)

H.R. 5076 – Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Youth Trafficking Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) / Education & the Workforce Committee)

H.R. 4980 – The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) / Ways & Means Committee)

H.R. 5135 – The Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2014 (Sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) / Judiciary Committee)

H.R. 5116 – To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to train Department of Homeland Security personnel how to effectively deter, detect, disrupt, and prevent human trafficking during the course of their primary roles and responsibilities, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) / Homeland Security Committee)

H.R. 4449 – To amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to expand the training for Federal Government personnel related to trafficking in persons, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) / Foreign Affairs Committee)

H.R. 2283 – Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) / Foreign Affairs Committee)

H.R. 3136 – Advancing Competency-Based Education Demonstration Project Act of 2013, Rules Committee Print (Sponsored by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) / Education & the Workforce Committee)

H.R. 4984 – Empowering Students Through Enhanced Counseling Act, Rules Committee Print (Sponsored by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) / Education & the Workforce Committee)

H.R. 4935 – Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014, Rules Committee Print (Sponsored by Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KY) / Ways & Means Committee)

H.R. 3393 – Student and Family Tax Simplification Act (Sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) / Ways & Means Committee)

Possible: H.Con.Res. 105 – Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq (Sponsored by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) / Foreign Affairs Committee)

(1 comment | Categories: Uncategorized » )

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – July 14, 2014

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of July 14, 2014. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: Monica Was Right

Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby (R) recently used information from WashingtonWatch.com in her campaign against Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). Her statement was accurate, but PolitiFact Oregon rated it “False.”

We weigh into the controversy in a post entitled: “Actually, Monica Wehby was Pretty Much Right.”

Featured Item

This week, the House will debate H.R. 5016, The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015.

The bill would spend money on the operations of the Department of the Treasury, the District of Columbia, the Judiciary, the Executive Office of the President (including the Council of Economic Advisers, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the White House), and more.

Passage of H.R. 5016 would spend about $415 per U.S. family.

H.R. 5016
The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $416.54 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015. Click here to vote on The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015.

The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015
17% For, 83% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

H.R. 5021
The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014
Costs $54.49 per family

S. 1214
The All-American Flag Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 1818
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe – Fish Springs Ranch Settlement Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4283
To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to maintain or replace certain facilities and structures for commercial recreation services at Smith Gulch in Idaho, and for other purposes
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4489
The World War I Memorial Act of 2014
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4527
To remove a use restriction on land formerly a part of Acadia National Park that was transferred to the town of Tremont, Maine, and for other purposes
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4709
The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 1946
A bill to amend the Reclamation Safety of Dams Act of 1978 to modify the authorization of appropriations
Costs $6.40 per family

H.R. 3393
The Student and Family Tax Simplification Act
Costs $392.12 per family

S. 1622
The Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act
Costs $0.03 per family

H.R. 4671
The Public Interest Declassification Board Reauthorization Act of 2014
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4935
The Child Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2014
Saves $545.31 per family

S. 2010
The Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4449
The Human Trafficking Prevention Act
Costs $0.00 per family


Updated Items

H.R. 1963
The Bureau of Reclamation Conduit Hydropower Development Equity and Jobs Act
Costs $0.02 per family

H.R. 3230
The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014
Costs $351.48 per family


Passed Items

P.L. 113-126
The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014
Costs $5.59 per family

(0 comments | Categories: Uncategorized » )

Actually, Monica Wehby was Pretty Much Right

Senate candidate Monica Wehby (R) recently used information from WashingtonWatch.com to argue a point in her campaign to unseat incumbent Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D). PolitiFact Oregon called her statement false, but they got it wrong. Wehby was pretty much right. There’s nuance to understand. Read on…

Wehby, the Portland pediatric neurosurgeon challenging Merkley, described Merkley’s vote in favor of S. 1769, the Rebuild America Jobs Act (112th Congress) as “typical of a Washington insider like Senator Merkley.” She said she would have voted no on the bill “because this legislation would have cost the average American family $1,000 a year while making no significant impact to fix our infrastructure and roads.”

WashingtonWatch.com was the source of the number that Wehby used (actually $958.40), and it’s a good reflection of the cost the bill would have had if it had passed. But PolitiFact Oregon called the statement false.

To my surprise, PolitiFact Oregon used yours truly as its chief authority on that finding. The report said that I “faulted Wehby’s claim on two counts.”

The first involved the $958.40 figure itself. In reality, [Harper] said, only half of that would come in the form of new taxes. The remainder really doesn’t count since it’s in the form of new spending. And while it could be argued that new spending amounts to a long-term debit, the CBO’s own finding that the bill was budget-neutral negates that point.

I didn’t say or imply to Politifact that spending “really doesn’t count.” It counts. The methodology we use here counts it.

Here’s what I wrote to the reporter:

The CBO score for S. 1769 (click “Read an analysis of the bill” on the bill’s page) shows revenues (taxes – a cost) of about $56.8 billion and outlays (spending – a cost) of $56.5 billion. That made S. 1769 a high-cost bill — it proposed increasing both taxes and spending — but it was fairly budget-neutral, increasing the average family’s share of the national debt by only about $40 per average family.

If Wehby claimed that the bill would have cost the average American family about $1,000 in new taxes, I think that is incorrect. It would have cost about $500 per family in new taxes and about $500 per family in new spending.

Wehby’s claim was not that it would cost $1,000 in new taxes, though, as the PolitiFact reporter said to me in his inquiry. It was that the bill “would have cost the average American family $1,000 a year.” That is a correct number. (The reporter did not catch or raise with me that our net present value calculation produces a one-time cost figure—not the cost per-year.)

While I pointed out that the bill was relatively budget-neutral, candidate Wehby didn’t make any claim about the budgetary effects of the bill. A bill can cost a lot and be budget-neutral. This one did and was.

The second point that the Politifact report attributed to me “was that ‘average families’ would not have borne the burden of any new costs because language in the bill made clear that it would be financed by a 0.7 percent surtax on millionaires.”

Here’s what I said to the reporter on that question:

As the bulk of the revenues would have come from a surtax on people with a modified AGI above $1,000,000, I see an argument that this would not have come from “average families” in the “median” or “mode” sense. But our calculations are literal averages — the arithmetic mean — which is produced by dividing costs among all families in the U.S. That approach makes the most sense for outlays, as funds in the U.S. treasury can be thought of as “owned” by all the people, and expenses should be treated as falling on all of us. The average/arithmetic mean makes less sense when it comes to revenues because they often come from distinct sets of taxpayers, such as the relatively well off.

“It’s up to you,” I wrote to the reporter, “whether you believe it’s expected in the context of Wehby’s statement to get into tax incidence. You can ding her for that omission if your judgment is that it’s something she should have included.”

In other words, I didn’t fault Wehby for failing to discuss tax incidence. The PolitiFact reporter did, falsely attributing it to me. I called Wehby’s statement “accurate” and left the question of subtlety around tax incidence to the reporter.

There’s a real point behind the reporter’s conclusion, of course: It’s an entirely legitimate policy proposal to tax higher-income people and use the funds to pay for road construction and such. But the legitimacy of that policy proposal doesn’t make Wehby’s statement false. It was a correct and literally accurate statement about the costs of the bill.

It turns out that issues around the “costs” of legislation are hard to figure out when a bill has both revenue and spending measures. We’ve given it a lot of thought over years here and come up with a pretty good methodology (explained and caveated at WashingtonWatch.com’s “about” page.)

It’s unfortunate that PolitiFact Oregon is faulting Wehby for making an accurate statement about cost rather than directly raising the question whether Oregon voters would prefer a tax increase aimed at wealthier people.

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – July 7, 2014

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of July 7, 2014. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: More Spending Bills

Here in the heart of appropriations season, there’s a new spending bill and another bill for which we have a cost estimate.


Read about them in a post entitled: “The Bills Keep Rolling In.”

Featured Item

This week, the House will debate H.R. 4923, The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015.

The bill would spend money on the operations of the Department of Energy, parts of the Department of Defense and Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior, and related agencies such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Passage of H.R. 4923 would spend about $350 per U.S. family.

H.R. 4923
The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $356.91 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015. Click here to vote on The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015.

The Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015
20% For, 80% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

S. 2354
The DHS Cybersecurity Workforce Recruitment and Retention Act of 2014
Costs $0.88 per family

S. 2117
The Smart Savings Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 1800
The Bureau of Reclamation Transparency Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 1104
The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act
Costs $0.01 per family

H.R. 5016
The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $416.72 per family

H.R. 4653
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2014
Costs $0.13 per family

H.R. 3488
To establish the conditions under which the Secretary of Homeland Security may establish preclearance facilities, conduct preclearance operations, and provide customs services outside the United States, and for other purposes
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 2554
The Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4508
To amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4803
The TSA Office of Inspection Accountability Act of 2014
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4812
The Honor Flight Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 3086
The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 2452
The Strong Start for America’s Children Act
Costs $231.40 per family

S. 1965
A bill to amend the East Bench Irrigation District Water Contract Extension Act to permit the Secretary of the Interior to extend the contract for certain water services
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 2499
The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $436.90 per family


Updated Items

none


Passed Items

P.L. 113-122
The Collinsville Renewable Energy Promotion Act
Costs $0.00 per family

P.L. 113-123
The World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2013
Costs $0.00 per family

P.L. 113-124
The Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013
Costs $0.68 per family

P.L. 113-125
The Reliable Home Heating Act
Costs $0.00 per family

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

The Bills Keep Rolling In

stack-of-moneyThough Congress was out last week, another spending bill was introduced, and we found cost information for another. So let’s take a further look at Congress’s unfolding spending plans.

If you want to see what’s happened so far, take a look at the chart in our post from last week, “Appropriations Progress!

The newest bill is H.R. 5016, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2015. Introduced by Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), it funds a long list of agencies and activities of government, to the tune of about $415 per U.S. family. Take a look:

Department of the Treasury
District of Columbia
The Judiciary
Executive Office of the President (including Council of Economic Advisers, Office of Management and Budget, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the White House)
Administrative Conference of the United States
Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Election Assistance Commission
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Inspector General
Federal Election Commission
Federal Labor Relations Authority
Federal Trade Commission
General Services Administration
Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation
Merit Systems Protection Board
Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation
National Archives and Records Administration
National Credit Union Administration
Office of Government Ethics
Office of Personnel Management and Related Trust Funds
Office of Special Counsel
Postal Regulatory Commission
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
Recovery and Accountability Transparency Board
Securities and Exchange Commission
Selective Service System
Small Business Administration
United States Postal Service, Payment to the Postal Service Fund
United States Tax Court
General Provisions, Government-wide

And here’s…

Next there’s S. 2499, the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015. It would spend about $435 per U.S. family on the State Department—and so much more. The bill was introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Here’s the current vote on S. 2499. Click to vote, comment, learn more, or edit the wiki article on the bill.

(1 comment | Categories: Appropriations/Budget » )

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – June 30, 2014

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of June 30, 2014. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: On Track

We assess the status of the appropriations bills for fiscal year 2015 in a post entitled: “Appropriations Progress!

Surprisingly, things are pretty well on track. In the House, at least.

Featured Item

The House does not meet this week. The Senate’s schedule is unclear.

The most recently introduced appropriations bill is H.R. 5013, the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015.

The bill would spend money on the operations of the Agency for International Development, the Department of State, the Export-Import Bank, the Millennium Challenge Program, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Peace Corps, and similar agencies.

Passage of H.R. 5013 would spend about $425 per U.S. family.

H.R. 5013
The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $425.95 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015. Click here to vote on The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015.

The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015
66% For, 34% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

H.R. 5013
The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $425.95 per family

H.R. 4809
To reauthorize the Defense Production Act, to improve the Defense Production Act Committee, and for other purposes
Costs $3.30 per family

H.R. 1771
The North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2013
Costs $0.09 per family

H.R. 4299
The Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 1779
The Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act of 2013
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4980
To prevent and address sex trafficking of children in foster care, to extend and improve adoption incentives, and to improve international child support recovery
Costs $0.98 per family

S. 2534
An original bill making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes
Costs $435.57 per family

H.R. 4521
The Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act of 2014
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4802
The Airport Security Enhancement Act of 2014
Costs $0.02 per family

S. 2244
The Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014
Costs $60.89 per family

H.R. 201
The Poverty Impact Trigger Act of 2013
Costs $0.35 per family

H.R. 4490
The United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014
Costs $32.42 per family

H.R. 4899
The Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act of 2014
Costs $13.14 per family

H.R. 2748
The Postal Reform Act of 2013
Saves $78.82 per family

H.R. 2750
The Design-Build Efficiency and Jobs Act of 2013
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 2132
The Indian Tribal Energy Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2014
Costs $0.13 per family

H.R. 4801
To require the Secretary of Energy to prepare a report on the impact of thermal insulation on both energy and water use for potable hot water
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4318
The Endangered Species Litigation Reasonableness Act
Saves $0.01 per family

H.R. 4795
The Promoting New Manufacturing Act
Costs $0.02 per family

S. 1744
The Security Clearance Accountability, Reform, and Enhancement Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 675
The Never Contract With the Enemy Act
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 4903
The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $436.51 per family


Updated Items

none


Passed Items

none

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

Appropriations Progress!

pile-of-moneyJust under the wire!

That’s how the House’s State Department/Foreign Operations appropriations bill came in. It was reported to the House Friday, bringing the House to nine of twelve annual spending bills that have at least been prepared for House floor debate ahead of the July 4th week.

The last several years, Congress has almost always failed to follow the ordinary spending process. In that process, after Congress agrees to a budget, the House and Senate each pass the multiple appropriations (spending) bills that fund the various parts of the federal government. The bills are supposed to pass during the summer, providing agencies in the executive branch plenty of time to prepare for their new budgetary situation when the new fiscal year starts October 1st.

To demonstrate responsible management, the House Appropriations Committee‘s chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said earlier this year that he would move all bills out of his committee before the August recess.

With the State/Foreign Ops bill reported on Friday, he’s gotten most of the bills out before the July 4th holiday. Fireworks! He’s on track.

Below is a table showing each of the appropriations bills and its current status. As you can see, the House has already passed five appropriations bills. The other four listed have been reported—that is, reported by the committee to the full House for debate.

The Senate is not doing too badly, though it’s definitely behind. Five bills have been reported and, in the case of another two, the Senate plans to take up the House bill, which is perfectly fine. (In one case, the Senate has a reported bill but plans to debate the House bill.) The Senate hasn’t passed any appropriations bills yet.

There are gaps, of course. Neither the House nor the Senate has produced a Financial Services/General Government bill. And neither has a Labor/Health and Human Services bill. Labor/HHS is usually the biggest bill of the year (just ahead of Defense), and it always seems to come along last.

Getting the appropriations bills done on time is good. This is not only so agencies can plan for the coming fiscal year, but so that the public has a little more of a chance to oversee Congress’s work. When the bills aren’t done and Congress has to do continuing resolutions and omnibus bills to keep the government running, the public is shut out of what is already a very arcane process.

Click on the bills in the table below to see how much they spend, to comment on them, and to vote them up or down based on your opinion of them. By clicking “Read the Bill” or “Read an Analysis of the Bill” in the “Learn More” box on each bill page, you can access the strange world of congressional spending and see all the different places the money goes…

Appropriations Bill House Senate
Agriculture H.R. 4800 – debated S. 2389 – reported
Commerce/Justice/Science H.R. 4660 – passed S. 2437 – reported (H.R. 4660 to be debated)
Defense H.R. 4870 – passed
Energy & Water H.R. 4923 – reported
Financial Svcs/Gen’l Govt
Homeland Security H.R. 4903 – reported S. 2534 – reported
Interior & Environment
Legislative Branch H.R. 4487 – passed H.R. 4487 – to be debated
Labor/HHS
Military Construction/Veterans H.R. 4486 – passed H.R. 4486 – to be debated
State/Foreign Operations H.R. 5013 – reported S. 2499 – reported
Transportation/HUD H.R. 4745 – passed S. 2438 – reported
(2 comments | Categories: Appropriations/Budget » )

WashingtonWatch.com Digest – June 23, 2014

This is the WashingtonWatch.com email newsletter for the week of June 22, 2014. Subscribe (free!) here.

On the Blog: SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!

The House schedule this week is like a top fuel dragster and a monster truck rally all rolled into one. Well. Sort of.

Read about the energy bills on tap for debate in a post entitled: “It’s FUEL Week!

Featured Item

Last week, the House passed H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015.

The bill spends money on the operation of the Department of Defense during the 2015 fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2014, and ends September 30, 2015.

Passage of H.R. 4870 would spend about $5,200 per U.S. family.

H.R. 4870
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $5,258.37 per family

What People Think

Click here to vote on The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015. Click here to vote on The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015
25% For, 75% Against

Vote on this Bill


Displayed below are new, updated, and passed items with their cost or savings per family.

New Items

H.R. 4923
Making appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes
Costs $356.75 per family

H.R. 4289
The Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 2022
The Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2014
Costs $0.88 per family

H.R. 4631
The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2014
Costs $9.06 per family

H.R. 4263
The Social Media Working Group Act of 2014
Costs $0.07 per family

S. 1603
The Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 429
The Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act of 2013
Costs $1.92 per family

S. 2040
The Blackfoot River Land Exchange Act of 2014
Costs $0.00 per family

H.R. 3606
The Emigrant Wilderness Historical Use Preservation Act of 2013
Costs $0.00 per family

S. 1925
The Driver Privacy Act
Costs $0.01 per family

H.R. 4870
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015
Costs $5,258.37 per family


Updated Items

H.R. 3230
The Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014
Costs $409.01 per family


Passed Items

none

(0 comments | Categories: The Week Ahead » )

It’s FUEL Week!

There’s no way a congressional calendar can top a monster truck rally, but the House is certainly taking a run at it, or revving their engines, so to speak. Next week is FUEL week in the House! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!

The House leadership have scheduled at least three bills that deal with energy policy. Let’s run down the list:

First, there’s H.R. 3301, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act. The bill would would make changes to permitting requirements for pipelines and other energy infrastructure at international borders.

In particular, it would eliminate the existing requirement that sponsors of such infrastructure obtain a Presidential permit. Instead, they would go to either the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Energy. Under H.R. 3301, sponsors of natural gas pipelines would not be required to obtain a certificate of crossing. It’s aimed at the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project.

H.R. 3301 has no cost (in dollars, maybe environmental values) per U.S. family. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the bill.

Then there’s H.R. 6, the Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act. The bill would provide for expedited approval of exportation of natural gas to World Trade Organization countries.

We featured it in an earlier post, “Gas for Europe, Indigestion for Russia.” Part of the idea behind the bill is that it will weaken Russia’s geopolitical position as a major source of energy supplies for Europe.

The bill has essentially no cost per U.S. family. It’s sponsor in the House is Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

And finally, there’s H.R. 4899, the Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act of 2014. We’re not sure what to think of that awkward name, but the bill promises to increase domestic onshore and offshore energy exploration and production, and also to streamline and improve onshore and offshore energy permitting and administration. It has typical trade-offs between energy production and environmental values.

There is no cost estimate yet for H.R. 4899, which was introduced by Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA).

That’s the House’s plan for top fuel dragster legislation this week! Start your engines!

(1 comment | Categories: Energy » )